Hallelujah, brothers and sisters! A junket to the Mayo Clinic, halfway to Payson from my house, has reset the computer where the blood pressure neurosis is concerned.
In fact I went in to discuss a different issue, which by the time today’s appointment rolled around had resolved itself. However, I decided to traipse out there anyway, because there were other things to chat about. Because I’d made the appointment on short notice, it was with a physician’s assistant and a nurse-practitioner (yahoo! two of ’em) rather than my regular doctor, who having just returned from maternity leave is maxed.
Number one headache (and today that was a literal term) had to do with the blood pressure conundrum. Took the pills out there and explained why I do not want to take the damn things, but also fessed up that yesterday I enjoyed yet another spike in numbers, into the 140s. In fact, the NP got a first reading of 159 over somegawdawful thing, though that came down considerably.
I hate doctor’s offices and I hate medical facilities and I hate having to explain myself to doctors and I’m not there unless stress and pain push me there, so of course whenever I get into one of those places, my blood pressure hovers near the ceiling.
Fortunately, a pair of the Chinese academics sent a new paper to edit yesterday, so I took the laptop with me so I could read copy while cooling my heels in the waiting room. That meant…lo! I also had my whole neurotic log of daily blood pressure readings, complete with weekly averages, an overall average, and a percentage breakdown of figures by high, medium, and low ranges.
I expected this elaborate spreadsheet would just confirm that I’m crazy, so hesitated to show it to her. But to the contrary: she was delighted to get the data. A-n-n-d…she was not at all fazed by the occasional spikes into the 140s. She said it’s the average that matters, and that under 130 is not very threatening, although one would like to keep it as low as possible to protect the kidneys and heart from potential damage.
I pointed out that the American Heart Association (which is partially funded by Big Pharma…) insists that ONE reading in the 140s or above is enough to put you on pills. (The British Health Service, in contrast, states that a consistent pattern of 140+ readings over time is the criterion.) I also pointed out that AHA guidelines recently changed; what used to be designated “moderately elevated” (readings in the 130s) is now considered to be “prehypertension” that must be treated, that readings in the 120s are now the “moderately elevated” range, and that the desired range is now in the 110s. She shrugged that off: clearly not impressed.
She said with an overall average of 128.4/83.3, she probably would not prescribe medication at all. However, she did agree that some of the startling spikes were a concern. And she also agreed that the drug Cardiodoc prescribed (or any of them, for that matter) had the potential to cause some serious dizziness since my BP is often in the low 120s…and even, of late, in the teens. On the other hand, she thought there was a good chance the very small dose would have no side effects at all. She suggested that I simply try the drug on a day that I don’t have to drive anywhere and see what happens. In fact, she proposed that I try it during a time when the numbers are spiking.
I said I’d been told it takes two weeks to take effect. Not so, said she: it’s a 24-hour pill, and if it’s gonna work, it will work within that period. She said it isn’t necessary to get “on” it for any length of time to see what it will do. And if we don’t like the results, the obvious response is simply to…well…stop taking it.
So relieved was I that I decided to stop in my favorite mega-supermarket, which is on the way home from the Mayo, buy a bottle of Cabernet, and take a flying leap off the back end of the wagon. Then, go to bed and sleep away the remaining half the afternoon.
Last night was pretty terrible: after coming home around 10:30 from a choir shindig in a restaurant (nothing like a club soda instead of a glass of wine to make you the life of the party…), the evening BP readings were in the stratosphere. Then — perhaps consequently — I slept badly, woke up at 5 with a hot flash, and found readings that were still elevated by the light of dawn.
Well, the Mayo Lady pointed out that scarfing down a basket of salty French fries after having had nothing to eat since about 2 in the afternoon would tend to jack up one’s blood pressure numbers. I thought that was a long-term effect, not a one-off sort of thing, but apparently restaurant food will do the job on your BP readings right now. Yes, I do know better than to eat that kind of junk, but by 9:30 last night I was too hungry to care.
So I fly in the house, grill a lamb chop and some asparagus and serve those up with some leftover polenta and a tomato and a couple glasses of cheap red wine. Yes!!
Then I stagger into the back of the house, fall into the bed, and sleep for a good two hours. Phone rings; chat with friend; fall back to sleep.
Roll out of the sack along about 5:30. Feed the dogs, pick up the kitchen. Break out the Omron. And this is what happened:
Holy mackerel! And think o’ that: 108/74? 110/72?!!?
Clearly what is missing from my life is red wine…
Seriously: at 10:30 last night the average of six figures was 144/85.8. Less than 24 hours later, all but one of a similar set of figures is under 120.
You can guess what would happen if I took a blood pressure drug when the underlying blood pressure was in that range. I wouldn’t even be able to stand upright.
Do I have a conclusion to draw from this?
Well, yeah: One conclusion is that obsessing over the blood pressure is probably driving my blood pressure up.
The other is, I need to go to the Mayo, not to a doctor in the wild. Mayo Clinic physicians are salaried employees: they have no incentive to overprescribe treatments and medications. Not to be driven crazy or bullied into unnecessary treatment is worth the endless drive through the homicidal traffic.
And finally, what is needed is an occasional glass of wine.